September 25, 2018

Dave O'Brien Claims The Dodgers Won "A Lot" Of 1-0 Games With Davey Lopes Stealing Second Base And Scoring The Only Run. ... The Actual Number Of Times This Happened In 10 Years? Zero.

Mookie Betts stole second base in the fourth inning of last night's 6-2 victory over the Orioles. His head-first slide prompted this conversation from NESN's Dave O'Brien and Dennis Eckersley:
Eckersley: I hate those head-long dives, but that's the way you got to get them. I used to watch Davey Lopes. He never would go in head-first. You remember Davey Lopes, with the Dodgers?

O'Brien: Sure, oh yeah.

Eckersley: He never slowed down on his slide. He had the quickest little slide on his -- feet slide.

O'Brien: The Dodgers won a lot of 1-0 games because he'd get on, steal a base, and someone would drive him in with a sac fly.

Eckersley: Yeah, he was stealing bags when I played with him, when he was 40 years old. He could still run.
(Sidenote: Eckersley's memory remains as solid as ever. He and Lopes were teammates on the 1985 Cubs. At age 40 that year, Lopes stole 47 bases.)

Lopes broke in with the Dodgers in 1972 and played for them until 1981. He stole 418 of his 557 career bases with Los Angeles.

So what about O'Brien's authoritative statement? How many 1-0 games did the Dodgers win during the ten seasons Lopes was in Los Angeles?

Thanks to Baseball Reference, I can tell you the answer is 21. This link includes the 25 games won by the Dodgers by a 1-0 score between 1972-1981. However, Lopes was not yet in the majors for the first four.

We can see that the Dodgers had no stolen bases in 15 of those 21 games, so O'Brien's claim is already in serious trouble. Also, I gave away the answer in the post's title, but let's go through all of the games anyway:
September 22, 1972: Lopes goes 0-for-5 in his major league debut. Tom Paciorek scores the run.

April 21, 1973: Lopes plays one half-inning in the field, but does not bat.

July 16, 1973: Lopes goes 2-for-4, but steals no bases. Willie Crawford hits a home run.

August 9, 1973: Lopes goes 1-for-4. He triples in the eighth and scores on Manny Mota's single.

April 25, 1974: Lopes goes 0-for-3. He walks in the first, goes to third on Bill Buckner's single, and scores on Jimmy Wynn's sac fly.

May 14, 1974: Lopes goes 0-for-3. He walks in the first and is thrown out trying to steal. Ron Cey scores the run.

May 18, 1974: Lopes goes 2-for-6. He singles in the bottom of the thirteenth, advances to third on two groundouts and scores on Steve Garvey's single.

September 10, 1974: Lopes goes 0-for-4. Steve Garvey scores the run.

June 23, 1976: Lopes did not play.

July 25, 1976: Lopes goes 1-for-4. He doubles in the first and is stranded at third. Bill Russell scores the run.

September 29, 1976: Lopes goes 0-for-3. Bill Buckner scores the run.

July 16, 1977: Lopes did not play.

August 10, 1977: Lopes goes 1-for-2. He singles in the first and is stranded at second. He walks in the third, is caught stealing second but is safe on an error, goes to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scores on Reggie Smith's single. He walks in the fifth and is stranded at second.

August 14, 1977: Lopes goes 0-for-3. He walks in the fifth and is stranded at third. Reggie Smith scores the run.

September 24, 1977: Lopes goes 0-for-4. Dusty Baker scores the run.

June 23, 1978: Lopes goes 2-for-4. He singles in the third and is forced at second. He singles in the seventh and is stranded at first. Steve Garvey hits a home run.

September 3, 1979: Lopes goes 1-for-3. He walks in the first and is forced at second. He triples in the sixth and is stranded at third. Dusty Baker scores the run.

June 15, 1980: Lopes goes 0-for-2. He walks in the fourth, moves to second on another walk, and goes to third on a groundout. He is stranded at third. Reggie Smith scores the run.

September 5, 1980: Lopes goes 1-for-4. He singles in the third and is thrown out trying to steal (1-3-6-3-1-4).

April 22, 1981: Lopes did not play. Pedro Guerrero scores the run.

May 8, 1981: Lopes goes 0-for-4. Ken Landreaux scores the run.
In his Dodgers career, Lopes scored the only run in a 1-0 win four times: August 9, 1973, April 25, 1974, May 18, 1974, and August 10, 1977.

Only once in those four games did he attempt to steal a base. In that case, he was thrown out, but ruled safe on an error.

Dave O'Brien claimed the Dodgers won "a lot" of 1-0 games in which Lopes stole a base and came around to score the game's only run.

The Dodgers actually won zero games like that.


allan said...

It's gotten to the point where when Dave O'Brien says, at the beginning of each broadcast, "I'm Dave O'Brien", I assume that's not actually his true name.

Unknown said...

"Trading" Don Orsillo for Dave O'Brien was like trading Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen. (And worse than trading Bill Lee for Stan Papi or Sparky Lyle for Danny Cater.) Awful, awful, awful.

Jim said...

I knew I could count on you. I wonder what O'Brien's got on John Henry. NESN can't be completely tone deaf on all this. OTOH, when Dining Playbook is pimped as a headliner, maybe they can. Or 3 big old guys in suits and Tom Caron (who ain't bad, actually) sitting around a studio table waiting waiting for the game to end.

allan said...

FWIW, I tweeted this post to @nesn. (OB does not have a Twitter account. If he did, he would have blocked me by now.)